Like many black women, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. It really tends to have a mind of its own and rarely submits to my commands. These days there’s a lot of hype on embracing one’s natural beauty and avoiding chemicals in order to leave hair in its natural state. About a year or so ago my hair was very damaged and required a hairdresser intervention. She gave me a protective style in order to help my hair to grow back. I’ve always had very thick hair that was challenging to manage. Growing up, my mother used a relaxer on it for a few years and then changed her mind deciding that I needed to go natural. It was ok for a few years. I didn’t look my age because of the cornrows but I really didn’t care that much because we lived in the middle of nowhere (literally) with no boys in sight for miles. However, after moving to the Atlanta metro area I decided it was time for a change and (finally) my dad backed me up in getting my hair relaxed again so it would be easier to style. Fast forward two days ago when I finally took my hair out of the protective style that it had been in for over a year. My hair was completely chemical free. I washed and dried it about 3 times in an attempt to get it to the point that I could comb through it. I broke several combs in the process and still was unable to get through all the tangles. It literally would not cooperate and I decided that I needed to see an expert. Once at the hairshop I had a brief consultation with my stylist who took one look at my hair and recommended putting a relaxer back in. As much as I liked the idea of being chemical free, the day to day upkeep of it was a commitment that I just was not willing to make. So I agreed and I am now back on the creamy crack. I can comb through my hair and now I can swim and workout without altering my entire day. It’s a beautiful thing. Will I ever go natural again? To be honest, probably not.
This week has been one of stress, deadlines, and people in crisis. It started with a very stressful meeting on Monday morning and spiraled from there. As I get up to go to work each day, I think about the thousands and probably millions of people who are institutionalized in some form. The people who we never think about because we are too busy living our lives. Those who spend days, months or years in one room because of physical or mental limitations. Or even the little kids who spend a significant part of the day inside a building sitting when they would rather be playing outside. The world isn’t fair and it will never be. The sad thing is that sometimes we institutionalize or confine ourselves without even knowing it. We feel bad about those around us and feel powerless to help them while we continue to limit ourselves on a daily and maybe even hourly basis. One of my goals in this new year is to identify and disrupt negative cycles that impact me personally. In addition to helping others, I want to help myself. To not become so immersed in the struggles of others that I leave my own life unattended. We’ll see how that goes.